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Why Lionel Messi Could Be Talking His Way out of Barcelona

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 03:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on  during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Getafe CF at Nou Camp on May 3, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images
Jason PettigroveContributor IDecember 30, 2016

Lionel Messi is rightly lauded as the best player in the world, but are we beginning to see some signs of diva behaviour and expanding ego from Barcelona's numero uno?

Never one to noticeably rock the boat, the demands purporting to have come from Messi's camp prior to him signing a new contract are mind-boggling.

Per Rik Sharma of the Daily Mail, not only does Messi require an exorbitant salary of £16.5 million per year plus £3 million in bonuses, but he has also demanded that Barcelona turn their attentions to signing Manchester City's Sergio Aguero.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 7: In this handout photo provided by Pepsi on April 2, 2014, Leo Messi and Sergio Aguero are pictured on the set of Pepsi's new global commercial and interactive film, 'NOW IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT', as part of the 2014 Pepsi Footbal
Handout/Getty Images

Not only that, but Messi also requires Jose Manuel Pinto to be given an extended contract.

Since when did the direction of a club's transfer policy fall to one of its players?

Incredibly, it would appear that Barca are willing to accede in order to keep their best player happy. According to Sharma's report, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu told Catalan TV station Esport3:

We are being unfair to Leo. Our club members need to understand that we must take care of Messi.

He has made such an important contribution to this club and he will continue to do so. That’s why we have no doubt that he will lead the future of the club. 

He is young, he is the best player in the world, and we believe in him.

The first part of Bartomeu's statement is perhaps the most worrying. "We are being unfair to Leo." 

Messi has already had six contract renewals since his first team bow, and this most recent one will be the seventh in nine years.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Whatever fans think of the make-up of the current board, that certainly doesn't smack of being unfair to its best player. In fact, it would be more than fair to suggest that Barcelona have actually done everything they possibly could to keep the Argentine content.

To allow themselves to continue being held to ransom and dictated to is quite unpalatable. It's an oft-used phrase in football: "No one player is bigger than the club."

Such attitudes do make you wonder whether the constant rumours of a Messi departure to Manchester City—including this one from Anthony Chapman of the Daily Express—is of the player's own doing, in order to force the club's hand.

It's not the first time that La Pulga has seemed to have wielded an inordinate amount of influence either.

If you recall at the time of Tata Martino's confirmation in the managerial role, there were suggestions, per Daniel Edwards of Goal.com, that Messi and his agent father Jorge had strongly recommended Martino over the other candidates in the running, one of whom was Luis Enrique. The inference from the Messi camp was clear.

With Alex Richards of the Daily Mirror and others now reporting that Enrique will be Barca's new manager after Martino leaves, you might imagine that he won't take too kindly to "advice" on any matters pertaining to transfers, or generally.

Might it be entirely possible, with the continued emergence of Neymar next season, that we could see Messi dispensed with?

Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

Per Marca, via Jim Daly of the Daily Mirror, Johan Cruyff considered the possibility a year ago.

You can't have the lunatics running the asylum. With Messi continuing to get a little too big for his size eights, it could be time to collect the nice little £164 million bounty waiting to be claimed in the north of England.

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